Disturbingly Informative Mutter Museum

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by zabelle on July 14, 2008

The sign in front of the building claims the collection is "disturbingly informative" and it certainly is just that. I was very surprised at how popular this museum was, it was packed with people and it isn’t exactly in the middle of the action. This was Jeanna’s favorite of everything that we did this weekend. Usually you would think that boys would be more into all these gruesome and truly gross things that are on display here but obviously when it comes to teens the gross gene affects both sexes.

We began by looking at small cases that flank the inner opening of the room. These cases document the most famous sets of conjoined twins. There were many more than I was aware of. For instance I had never heard of the Hilton twins who obviously were quite famous in the 1930’s and 40’s. One of the most famous exhibits is the conjoined liver of the famous twins Eng and Chang. I also wasn’t aware of all the different ways that twins can be con joined and that each of these conjoining has a specific name.

From here I went on to the case of skulls. Who would have thought that skulls could come in such a wide variety of sizes and shapes? This case came from a collection that was done by a European Dr Joseph Hertyl.

Another really gross display is called the soap lady. She was buried right here in Philadelphia. If the conditions are exactly right a body can be preserved in just the way that this one was. It isn’t a pretty sight I can assure you of that.

What I found the most disturbing though was all the little fetus’ that were preserved in jars. Some of them looked the size of a full term infant. Their deaths were from a variety of causes but some of them were just beautiful and so perfect looking, I can’t imagine a family donating their child in this way, but of course that is just me.

On the lower level there is a case that has a giant and a dwarf along side a normal sized person. Ever want to see a liver with cirosis? A foot with gangrene? An ovarian tumor the size of a basketball? A man with a horn growing out of his forehead? Those were nothing in comparison to the colon that was about two feet around, no kidding it was really big and painful to look at. If you are easily made queasy this isn’t the museum for you.

A morbidly fascinating collection was items that have been removed from people’s throat and trachea by one Doctor. For some reason he saved everything he removed. There are pins of every size, a peach pit and way too many items to list. You have to open drawers to see all of these items.

Another exhibit that was very interesting dealt with the health of the presidents of the United States. I wasn’t ware of many of the things that they talked about. This is where you get to see the tumor that they removed from Grover Cleveland’s jaw. I’ll bet you were wondering when I would get around to that, weren’t you?

So if you like the bizarre, the unusual the truly weird then you will love this museum and even if you don’t it really is a fascinating place. Allow about 2 hours for a visit.
Mutter Museum
The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19103
+1 215 563 3737 ext.


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